The Skinny: Because of my disappointment in that On-The-Bun place, I decided on a whim to go to Bristol Farms Market and buy my own set of burger ingredients for dinner. I ended up spending about 30 bucks on 3 Lean Ground Chuck Beef Patties, 4 Sesame Buns, a Red Onion, a bag of Baby Purple Potatoes, slices of Tillamook Sharp Cheddar, a bottle of Arrogant Bastard, and a $6.60 Goose Livery Terrene.
While snacking on the Terrene with a butter knife, preheated at 450°, I roasted those little balls of carbs with Light Olive Oil and freshly crushed Kosher Salt and Black Pepper. I simply cut them into halves, tossed them around in a bowl with some Olive Oil and placed them on a tray with tin foil. After seasoning them, I let those potatoes roast for about 50 minutes in the oven.
With the burger, I started off by caramelizing the thinly sliced Red Onion on high heat with Balsamic Vinegar and just a little bit of Fish Sauce. After few taste tests, I put the caramelized onions off to the side to cool off and got a new pan and dropped some butter on it’s heated surface. With the Burger Patties I was using, I salt and peppered one side only and placed that side on the hot buttered pan and let it cook for about 4-5 minutes. With the raw side of the patties sticking up from the pan, I seasoned those surfaces the same way before flipping them. I would only flip the burger patties once and add a slice of Sharp Cheddar on top of each.
While waiting for those patties to finish cooking, I toasted the bread in the oven for just a minute. I then got some Miracle Whip Mayo, took a few tablespoons of it, and splashed it with Habanero Tobasco and stirred it around. When it was time to construct the burger, I put that Mayo mixture and a slice of tomato on the bottom bun to help protect it from all the meat juices that was going to come flowing down. And to finish it off, I added the burger patties and the caramelized onions on top.
In the end, the burgers came out a bit savory, sweet, spicy, and juicy while the pink centered patty had a nice crust thanks to the butter used to cook it. My family loved it! The roasted Purple Baby Potatoes did come out pretty good, just be sure to leave the skin side of the potato wedges down on the surface of the tray. Otherwise, you’ll get some of the sides steamed rather than crispy.
The Skinny: A popular burger hub that’s been voted as one of the top 10 places in Los Angeles by the Huffington Post. Their signature dish is the Korean influenced Kalbi burger.
The High: The Kalbi Burger itself lives up to the hype. It’s juicy, messy, delicious, and everything The Counter is not. (:-X) The greens in it had the same vinaigrette at those $19.99 all-you-can-eat Korean BBQ places. The flame broiled short rib and ground chuck patty was flavorful thanks to the Kalbi aioli; even though it tasted more like Bulgogi. The toasted bread stayed together well despite my sloppy way of eating it. It also served as a piece of sponge to soak up all the delicious juices that tried to escape. The fries were crispy and tasty thanks to them being fried twice.
The Low: I remember the first time I went to Kalbi Burger I made the mistake of getting the Saigon. I was expecting it to taste like a Bahn Mi….but it didn’t. The pickled veggies needed more pickling.
Would you come back again? Yes! I got to try the Seoul Dog.
More Info: www.kalbiburger.com – $9.95 for a combo meal that has the Kalbi Burger, Fries, and a drink. $7.95 for just the burger.
The Skinny: Cafe Crest is located in the heart of Hillcrest, an uptown San Diego neighborhood. It’s a full service American style diner that serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner with Rainbow flags waving proudly. You can even order burgers for breakfast there.
The High: After discovering the Cafe Crest and it’s Butter Burger through another Gastronaut blogger, thanks to a family trip I was able to seek the place out and try it. The Butter Burger is made with a half pound of fresh lean ground beef, Garlic (Tarragon, Basil, & Parsley) Butter and then more butter after being broiled. I also got a side of potato salad with a splash of yellow mustard. My brother got the Ultimate Burger, which is a “12 ounce angus burger mixed with sun dried tomatoes, onions and parsley and homemade teriyaki sauce.” And to top it all off, he also got bacon, his choice of cheese, and some beer battered onion rings.
The Butter Burger flavors were subtle, juicy, and the herbs carried through. Each time I put the burger down to wipe my fingers, the onion bun the burger came bedded on, soaked up all the extra butter left on my plate. My only problem with it was that the flavors were too subtle. I’ve come to the preference that a healthy dose of salt and pepper is needed to really bring out the flavors from a burger. I did manage to try the medium rare Ultimate Burger my brother got and while it did pack a punch, it too needed some more basic seasoning. The bacon should have given it enough salt along with the teriyaki, but it seemed somewhat bland. Well, either that or the Butter Burger coated my tongue and blocked everything else out. The onion rings were very tasty though.
The Low: The potato salad I got was bland, even with the yellow mustard I added. My mom, who was with us, ordered oatmeal and the fresh fruit she got were moldy.
Would you come back again? Probably not, but I believe every place deserves a 2nd chance at redemption….unless they were offensively bad. The staff at Cafe Crest were very friendly and the food was still solid.
More Info: 425 Robinson AvenueSan Diego, CA 92103. Credit card friendly. Serves wine and beer. Expect to pay $10.25 for the Butter Burger and $13.50 for the Ultimate.